Nurses at UHealth Tower, Tenet Facilities Win Better Pay, Staffing and ProtectionsOctober 12, 2023
There have been a host of victories for 1199SEIU Florida member nurses who work at UHealth Tower and Tenet Healthcare facilities, especially for longtime caregivers who are now more fairly compensated for their years of experience over new hires.
The hospitals in many cases were paying wages to new employees comparable to those of experienced nurses. But through contract negotiations and grievances challenging the practice, nurses and their union representatives were able to ensure protections and pay increases.
About 40 nurses at UHealth Tower and 20 at Saint Mary’s Medical Center will benefit from the agreements. For some RN’s this could mean up to about $14,000 in additional yearly income.
Lynn Reis, an RN in the Pediatric ER at St Mary’s Medical Center says “Our union contract is powerful. It shields us against unfair practices and ensures employers are held accountable if they try to violate the terms we’ve negotiated. We can accomplish amazing things when we stand up for rights through our union, like guaranteeing that we get paid for our experience. Today, our contract provided us all the protection we needed to win.”
“Employers should value and recognize seniority,” says Elizabeth Jazon, a RN and delegate at UHT. “Longtime staff have valuable experience and have shown a real commitment to our hospital and the patients they serve and that should be acknowledged by employers. If they don’t, they risk losing seasoned nurses at a time when the staffing crisis is already taking a toll on hospitals and the quality of care.”
There have been additional victories at UHT that have improved wages and staffing for many nurses.
• The creation of a Patient Safety Observer position has helped ease the staffing shortage. It ensures patients are supervised while freeing up CNAs and RNs to perform other duties. The position was created after many nurses filled out ADO (Assignment Despite Objection) forms expressing concerns about low staffing and its impact on care. It’s yet another example of the power of the ADO form and why all healthcare workers should use it to document staffing issues. To access the form, text “Staffing” to 30644.
• Nurses on 11 South are now receiving additional pay after proving the kinds of patients they care for meant their floor should be designated as a specialty unit. They received an increase in wages to place them at the appropriate step on the specialty pay scale based on their years of experience and licensure. These increases varied from $2 to $5 per hour. Plans are in the works to help nurses in 6 North get specialty pay too.
“These victories were possible because nurses united and took action together through our union,” said Tarquisha Hollinshead, RN at UHT. “Whether it’s a grievance or filling out the ADO form or a petition, there are many ways healthcare workers can make their voices heard and make positive changes at their facility as well as in their community.”